News source from CTV News
No one knows when government-run pot shops will officially open for business, but in New Brunswick, some are ready to-go.
On Wednesday, Cannabis NB showed off one of them as the doors opened for a few hours at this showpiece store for government-run cannabis outlets.
The shelves are still empty, but a retailing plan is ready.
“Someone comes in, they’ll be ID’d at the door,” said Brian Harriman, president of NB Liquor. “We’re not allowing anyone under 19 in the store. We have a reception area out front where people can go on tablets and learn and become a little more educated about cannabis.”
At the outset, each shop will have about 250 different marijuana varieties and products, virtually all of it grown in New Brunswick.
“Now one of our key goals, in order to delivered on the mandate, if we want to shrink the illegal market, people have to choose to buy from us,” Harriman said. “And so we need to have a great shopping experience, we need to provide great service, we need to provide competitive pricing and assortment”
The building is raising eyebrows in the neighbourhood. Danny Joyce works as a mechanic near the shop.
“Yeah, if you told me that 10 years ago I would have said, ‘No, I think you’re dreaming; you’re in a different world.’ But we’re there,” Joyce said.
He wonders how successful the new business will be.
“It’s an expense that the taxpayers of New Brunswick are going to be paying for if it doesn’t go well. They’re hoping to make some money on it, absolutely, and I wish them all the luck in the world.”
The Liberal government calls the new cannabis industry an important economic development plank, but critics say that economic strategy is misguided.
Progressive Conservative NLA Dorothy Shephard is one of those critics.
“We didn’t have a social license for shale gas. We didn’t have a social licence for Energy East in their opinion. Yet for some reason, we have a social license to put cannabis shops up,” Shephard said.
Some shops remain under construction, but NB Liquor says almost a dozen outlets have been completed province-wide. They are ready to go and the first employees are expected to be hired and trained soon after the federal government announces an actual legalization date, which is expected sometime this fall.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.
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